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July 20, 2000


A plea to help stop eco-terror


AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

Dr. Prakash and colleagues,

I have been following the ongoing debate about genetic
engineering through a listserv called Ban_GEF and
Biotech_activist@IATP.org. I found your group because
of cross postings.

While I remain concerned about who controls
biotechnology, I have come to a disturbing conclusion
about some of the groups with whom I have been
discussing this issue who so strongly oppose genetic
engineering. Their tactics and support for violence
and vandalism are unacceptable and must stop. This
was highlighted for me by two gleeful postings to
these lists noting today's New York Time's article
entitled "Wave of Eco-Terrorism" and reports here in
the U.K. of another 11 people arrest this week for
destroying GM field trials.

We will never know the truth about GMO safety or
environmental impacts if we destroy the research aimed
at providing that information.

I am saddened by the failure of our justice system
here in addressing this problem. To date, not even a
slap on the wrist to those who destroy farmers
property and research. I am ashamed to say that I had
financially supported Greenpeace UK in the past
because of my commitment to oppose whaling and nuclear
arms. Now, I believe my money may have helped Lord
Melchett pay his legal fees defending his misguided

Illegal acts are no way to improve the situation or
address our concerns. In addition, I see reports of
these actions growing daily in the United States. I
only hope you can help set an example in North America
to end these acts of terrorism.

The New York Times notes that "eco-terrorists" prefer
to call their illegal acts "direct action" and mask
themselves through others in publicizing their
activities. When I believe in something, and am
willing to engage in civil protest that might include
arrest I do so publicly. People who had been involved
in the anti-war movement in the 60s and the
anti-nuclear movement in the 70s and 80s did not wear
ski masks or run training camps to learn how to avoid
arrest and accountability for their actions. These
activities can only damage legitimate protests and

Today, these "direct action" programs are supported
and promoted by mainstream organizations. Mr. Ted
Turner for example has helped fund these training
camps now being promoted for "summer fun" (The Ruckus
Society) on BAN-gef and other Internet sites. The
Institute for Agriculture Trade Policy shares their
news releases and hosts rallies with those like Jose
Bove and Vandana Shiva who publicly call on people to
vandalize supermarkets or "cremate" companies involved
in this technology. I do not think Mr. Turner could
possibly be aware his money is being used to help
illegal activities, nor can those who support the IATP
be aware how their contributions are being spent.

Sir, please implore your science colleague to help
stop these groups, bring attention of their actions to
those who fund them and move this debate to a
rationale dialogue on both social policy and
scientific fact. I have recently signed a petition to
stop these acts of terrorism posted to www.CFFAR.org,
you and your colleagues may wish to consider this or
another way to weigh in on this issue.

Thank you.

A. Smetacek